My wife and I eventually saw the Black Panther yesterday.
It’s a bit of a James Bondish and Sir H. Rider Haggardish technology infused King Solomon Mines storyline, complete with the Ignosi and Twala throne succession challenge of single combat. The sub-theme of a long lost heir to the throne returning incognito to reclaim his mandate was also not lost here. No gold and diamond mines this time, just Vibranium, a precious extraterrestrial metal with limitless powers, more useful than kryptonite, more precious than gold and diamond, with limitless applications across all fields of human endeavor.
This mythical kingdom of Wakanda hints at what Africa could have been if it wasn’t stripped and looted of its precious stones and its artifacts. The constant use of the term ‘colonizers” re-enforces this, and the quip ‘how do you think your ancestors got these?’ during the museum heist scene.
Having said that, the Black Panther is a beautifully made move. Memorable action sequences, Excellent I must say and arguably the best I have seen from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) is to me, by far, the coolest and most charismatic Marvel Universe villain. In fact, in my view, he oftentimes overshadowed the boring T’Challa, and of course there was the vivacious gadget Shuri played by Letitia Wright.
A solid cast all together.
In the final analysis, Black Panther is a big budget Hollywood sci-fi movie that provides a mostly black cast a global platform to shine, and shine they did. It hints at what Africa could have been, however it is not a celebration of Africa and Africanness (if there is such a word). I have even read some people say that every African child should watch this movie. In the sense that make believe super heroes are for 10 year olds and some of us who still wish we could relive those years, yes. But it is still a superhero movie for crying out loud! Fiction. Make believe. Not as if it is a biopic of Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Mandiba, Zik, Nkrumah or Awo.
Asides from a box office sales gimmick, I don’t think Black Panther is enough for us to dress all Afrocentric. Let us not take away from the movie’s greatness on its own merit as a beautiful, beautiful work of art. There is also the positive representation of Blacks both in lead and supporting roles in the same movie. However, we should not get carried away in a manner that makes it seem as if the entire black race is seeking validation from a work of fiction.
Jekwu Ozoeme is a Nigerian Banker, Poet and Playwright.